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#FirstDraft120 Days 60-67ish: Discovering the Force #amwriting #writersblock

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

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It doesn’t seem to matter how often I tell myself that this time I’m committed to get back into writing. This time, I’m going to make it work. This time, I’m actually going to stick to a daily writing schedule. This time, I won’t procrastinate and then quit.

Well, this time has been no different than the few times I’ve tried this before—ever since completing my last contracted book in 2013, I’ve been unable to overcome the procrastination and laziness that overwhelms me whenever I think about sitting down to write.

It’s not that I don’t want to write—or at least do something creative. As most of you well know, I deal with depression on a daily basis. Not only am I wired for it, but I also take medication that exacerbates it. (And medication to try to counteract that.) I work from home so I don’t really feel much accountability to keep a regular daily schedule, despite telling myself every weekend that this week I’m going to make myself get up at a regular time and sit at the work computer for eight hours—with breaks, of course—and focus on my job instead of allowing myself to get distracted with other stuff, which just makes the work day extend well into the evening; and then I don’t feel like doing anything else. And it just becomes a vicious loop of distraction and procrastination and wallowing in the “blah” feeling of unmotivation that the depression brings on, instead of working to overcome it.

See, I know deep down that if I make myself stick to a schedule, both for work and for writing, I’ll feel and function better both mentally and emotionally. I’ll have more energy to get more stuff done around the house (you don’t even want to know what a wreck it’s become). I’ll actually get stuff done, which in turn will give me an emotional boost, which will make overcoming the blahs/procrastination tendency that much easier the next time.

Yet, I don’t.

Confession: I’ve Been Playing Instead of Writing

It’s not that I haven’t been channeling the need to do something creative. Although some of my time has been spent productively in working on hand-crafted Christmas gifts, the majority of my time has been spent working on something that has become a go-to for me when I wallow in my depression long enough that I need a mental escape. It’s a project I call my “imaginary husband.” It started years ago as an alternate reality for myself when I was “self”(un)employed and struggling to make ends meet through diminishing freelance editing projects and writing contracts. Imagining myself falling in love and living a fabulous life with a great husband in a great house with a great job gave me a mental and emotional escape that I needed to help me through that time.
imaginary-husband-project

In the past couple of months, I’ve found myself returning more and more frequently to that outlet and losing myself in it for hours at a time. It isn’t writing—it’s both analytical (scouring websites for events that “we” could go to/be involved with and setting up a calendar of events) and visual (creating virtual paper dolls of me and the template for the imaginary husband—a guy I found on a stock photo site—choosing outfits, which means lots of virtual shopping for the clothes and accessories, and even down to choosing restaurants and “ordering” our meals at each one from viewing their menus online). It’s something that uses many of my skills: analytical, creative, graphic, design. However, it isn’t really productive, and it’s really just more procrastination.

Actually, it’s a lot like what I used to do when I started making the transition from playing with Barbies and then, eventually, into writing when I was around thirteen or fourteen years old. Only, back then, I had to use catalogs and magazines, glue/tape, and loose-leaf notebooks, since the Internet didn’t exist. It’s playing. It isn’t writing.

Discovering and Using the (Writing) Force

If you ever had to take physics, you know Newton’s first law of motion: An object at rest tends to stay at rest while an object in motion will stay in motion. This is known as inertia. The object at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an “unbalancing” force. (Yes, that’s a simplification.) In the physical realm, this means an outside entity must act upon the object to get it to move (or stop). In the mental/emotional realm, it can also be an outside force that must be enacted (a deadline, a contract, a commitment to others, etc.). However, most of the time, it requires that force come from within.

So, my “imaginary husband” project has created an object-at-rest state for me. It’s a lot like overeating junk food—it’s satisfying in the moment, but then as soon as it’s over, I feel guilty for not making better choices. Which just makes overcoming the mental/emotional hurdles that much harder.

It’s so easy to sit here, while writing this post, and tell myself this time it’ll be different. This time, I’ll actually stick to my commitment to write daily. This time, I’m really going to do it. But those are just words. And words are easy to say (type). Action is harder.

But then, thinking about everything that I need to change (work schedule, writing schedule, being a better housekeeper, making healthier food choices, etc.), it becomes overwhelming. So I know I need to make smaller changes. Getting up 20 minute earlier every day until I’m back on a normal work schedule. Setting a timer for one hour and making myself focus on work before taking a 10-minute break. Writing 50 words. Then 100 words. Then 200 words. Taking it in small chunks until I’ve built up the INERTIA needed to be an object that stays in motion.

It’s 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. I’ve already done most of my work for today (just need to send in my daily report). So that means the rest of the evening is mine to do with what I will. So here’s what I’m going to accomplish tonight:

1. Write/publish a blog post. (DONE!)
2. Write at least 200 words on my novel between now and the time I go to bed.
3. Take the trash out (trash-pickup is early Thursday morning on my street).
4. Unload the dishwasher and put the dishes currently in the sink into it.
5. Put the couple of boxes of stuff that need to go to Goodwill in the car.

Now, if accomplishing this to do list taps me into the Force and gives me momentum, I might do more than this. But even if I just get these five things accomplished, it’ll be more than I’ve done in quite some time.

Assignment: What are five things that you can to tonight that will help you tap into the “force” and go from at-rest to in-motion?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Nikki permalink
    Wednesday, December 7, 2016 4:56 pm

    Hi Kaye,
    I would just like to say how truly useful and motivating your blog is. It has helped me through moments of despair and total mind blocks to finally complete my first book. If you get a chance have a look its called “Under a Northland Sun” on amazon as an eBook.
    I couldn’t have done it without you- thanks!

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NBHV9FJ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481150777&sr=1-1&keywords=under+a+northland+sun

    Like

  2. Wednesday, December 7, 2016 6:44 pm

    I’ve been there. I suffer from an illness that plagues me into not wanting to do anything. I have to force myself. When it comes to writing, I don’t focus on a word count or on how much I can get done, I simply do what I can. One paragraph, one page, doesn’t matter, it brings me further along in my projects. Good luck to you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thursday, December 8, 2016 12:59 am

    Your honesty and willingness to share your real self is such a gift to us as readers of your blog. It’s the reason I keep coming back. I’ve never engaged on a blog at all. But something about yours really grabbed me from the beginning, and I think this post sums up why it did. You are brave and real, and it comes across in your posts. I admire your insight into writing, but it’s your genuine spirit and the honesty you share that makes me really connect with your words. I find myself rooting for you, and I get a similar encouragement from the camaraderie of the 120-day draft challenge.

    I certainly don’t want to over-relate, but so much of what you shared above resonates with me. I’ve struggled with depression for years. The medicine I take for it helps a lot, but it makes me so anxious (and I’m good at being anxious without the chemical help!). I’ve worked from home for over a decade, and as much as I love not having the hassle of a daily commute or professional clothes, it’s lonely. And it’s hard to self-motivate. For me, it’s even hard to make myself socialize for fun sometimes. But what resonates most is your imaginary husband project. I’ve done the same sort of thing since I was a little girl. I’ve always had a specific dream life running in the background, one that has changed at different stages but that has always been incredibly detailed. At 12, I was falling in love with a famous soap opera star in my head to escape middle school bullies in reality. While first my college friends and then my adult friends began falling in love for real, I filled up my dateless weekends sketching out my dream house, and then imagined myself in it with that one unknown but just-right-for-me guy. I wrote a book’s worth of letters to my future husband before I had any idea who he was, or if he even existed at all. I mention all this because those experiences of mentally creating this rich dream life directly led to me writing my books. Not because of having a good imagination, etc. I tried to write a book for years and never got anywhere. The key for me was realizing that I’d been creating stories all along, only they were designed around me. Yeesh, that sounds self-centered. But it’s true. I drew upon that history of creating fantasy lives for myself and switched to writing in the first-person perspective. You’re a pro, so I’m sure you’ve already considered this, and I’m assuming third person is still more standard for writing romance. But since this changed everything for me and unlocked my ability to write books to completion, I thought I’d mention it. Something about getting inside the character’s head in that way made all the difference. I was more invested in what happened to her because she felt more like a part of me. Again, probably not a new idea for you, and you know what works best for you. But from one dreamer to another, it worked for me.

    I have no idea why I’m rambling on like this. Like I said, I don’t want to over-relate or presume to know you well. I guess partly I wanted to be honest about some of my similar struggles, because you’re so open with us and it always helps me to know I’m not the only one to deal with depression and the resulting lack of motivation, etc. Mostly, though, I wanted to thank you for being so honest and genuine, and to let you know that I’m cheering you on.

    Liked by 1 person

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  1. Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017. New Year, Revised Goals. | KayeDacus.com

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